Albert Einstein once said, "I have no special talents, I'm just passionately curious."
How delicious is that? How inspiring!
Then there is the emerging research revealing that curious minds learn better, even in subjects they aren't all that curious about.
Enthusiasm leads to knowledge.
This summer, rather than trotting out those math minute homework books or challenging my children to complete the library's reading adventure, my focus will be on nurturing their curiosity. Instead of rote homework, we'll put those math and reading skills to work exploring ideas that truly excite the kids.
It's not that I expect them to be the next Albert Einstein, of course.
I believe curiosity and wonder are the foundations of a compassionate life.
If we cannot stand in wonder before our own treasures, if we are not curious about the people, places, and ideas around us, how can we concern ourselves with making the world a better place?
Like empathy, curiosity can be practiced. It is a way of interacting with the world. Even more encouraging, curiosity is contagious. The more you share your passions with your child, and the more room you give them to explore their own, the more curious you both will become.
By allowing yourself to be awestruck, you'll find yourself on new adventures that feed your soul, touch the lives of others, and make the world a brighter place.
Create time and opportunities for wonder with the tips below.
1. Make time to talk.
Curiosity needs a little wiggle room to get started. Guard some free space on the calendar. Spend quiet time marveling at stars and wandering in nature with your child.
And while you are hanging out together, talk, talk, talk. If you want fresh ideas for what to say, Doing Good Together offers some useful tips for launching meaningful conversations with your child.
Paula Spencer Scott wrote on Kinstantly about the importance of nurturing a child's love of learning through the simple act of being – and talking –together.
"These conversations may not sound like much. But over time, they foster a positive atmosphere about thinking and learning that sends out wide ripples into our kids' futures, the research suggests." – Paula Spencer Scott
2. Meet new people.
Regular service projects offer an incredible opportunity to engage with people you may otherwise never meet. The people you help, staff, and other volunteers will all broaden your horizons and build your "empathy muscles."
Summer is the perfect time to take on a regular volunteering gig. Follow the links below for helpful instructions, reflection questions, and tips to get started.
3. Ask questions. Dive deep.
When kids express natural curiosity about something, help them explore their questions. This can be challenging on busy weekday evenings. Instead of losing track of their fascinating (possibly fantastical!) questions, start a Wonder Wall like Cathy James over at Nurture Store.
And make time to read together. If your child is hooked on a big idea already, hit the library and load up on nonfiction, historical fiction, and even poetry about your subject. Explore the idea together and see where it takes you.
If you need help finding a topic to get passionate about, check out Philosophy for Kids: 40 Fun Questions that help you Wonder About Everything! by David White. Explore more big ideas with this great collection for curious kids of every age.
Also our big-hearted book lists are full of great titles to explore.
4. Focus on a special project.
While assigned projects from school my fill your child with dread and your home with complaints, you may be surprised at the level of focus and engagement kids are capable of when they've chosen a project on their own.
Next time you have a free weekend, let your child tackle something they care about. Here are some resources to get you started.
- Be a citizen scientist and take part in a crowd-sourced science project from SciStarter.com.
- Check out The Kids Should See This, a DGT favorite. This must-see collection of videos on everything from crayon making to a spinning Rudolf Nureyev to a leafy green dragon.
- Commit to kindness and choose from our Pick a Project collection.
5. Follow their lead and urge them forward.
Ask your child how to spend your next Saturday. They will almost certainly surprise you with an idea or two for summer adventures (beyond the obvious tech requests).
Then, help them push those ideas further. Be curious yourself.
For more tips on cultivating wonder, check out our featured newsletter on the subject.
6. Use gadgets for good.
Too often I make technology the bad guy. This summer, I plan to tap into my inner optimist and claim technology as the most helpful tool I've got.
I will unleash the power of the Internet.
And really, if you're focusing on curiosity, what could be more useful than a small square of circuitry connecting you and your children to every nugget of knowledge in human history. Here are some resources beyond google that I'm excited about.
- Ted Talks for curious kids.
- You Tube's SciShow Kids and National Geographic Kids channels.
- SciStarter.com, and yes, I'm mentioning them twice. Citizen science is so cool, especially for my precocious middle-schooler who wants to make an impact on the natural world.
- Common Sense Media's Essential Creativity Guide, full of tools to inspire kids and grown-ups alike to get curious and start creating.
7. Make time for kindness with our NEW Summer Bucket List.
Sharing kind acts as a family supports curiosity in two ways. Some service opportunities offer amazing ways for kids to get directly involved with an idea they are curious about. Other acts of kindness will introduce kids to new people and new ideas that will spark a while new line of inquiry and wonder.
We've created a brand new printable Summer of Kindness Bucket List just for your family. Check it out and let us know how you use it. Or revisit last year's Bucket List for more ideas.
Browse these big-hearted and creative kindness projects!
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The recommendations we offer are based solely on our mission to empower parents to raise children who care and contribute.